Genji Monogatari

The Genji Monogatari, ‘Tale of Genji’, is Japan’s greatest work of classical literature and the earliest ‘novel’ in world literature. Written by a court lady who we know as Murasaki Shikibu around the beginning of the eleventh century, it tells the story of Genji, the son of an emperor, and a paragon among men, in his search for happiness with many lovers. A vast work, the novel depicts its characters’ psychological states in minute detail and provides a wealth of information about an (idealised version of) court life in Heian Japan. There a three complete English translations, the most recent by Royall Tyler.

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